Imagine opening a web page on The Onion to find a serious, staid article?
Now imagine opening a web page of The New York Times to digest a humorous, irreverent article lampooning some political prey?
Bizarro world, right? Confusing too. Things would be in reverse. Because The Onion is all about the silly satire while The New York Times is a serious, reputable website trusted by discerning newshounds.
It’d be like seeing a fish sandwich on a Pizza Hut menu. Something’s off.
I mucked my old blog up. Big time. Twas only for 6 years. Phew! Thank the lucky stars.
My blog was like The Onion trying to be a trusted news source. Or Pizza Hut trying to serve a delectable, tartar sauce smothered, omega fat rich sandwich. Something was off because…….my blog lacked top down alignment.
When you go to Pizza Hut you expect all things to be aligned with Italian food, preferably pizza. From the menu to décor to the smell in the kitchen, if you smell pizza, all is good. They do 1 thing. They do it darn well. You trust ’em. So Pizza Hut reels in customers. But the split second the Pizza Hut brand deviates from their niche, they confuse their customers. You don’t go to *Pizza* Hut to buy a fish sandwich.
MOB – My Old Blog – was a mob, or a veritable jambalaya of niches: make money online one day, online business the next, personal development the following day. Even worse: my blog design reflected my chaotic mental state.
My mind felt like the Holland Tunnel at rush hour. Thoughts and feelings sprinted through my noggin’ at a breakneck pace. This mental pablum leaked into my blog. And it wasn’t pretty.
Top Down Mis-Alignment
My domain name aligned with 1 niche. My blog title, the same niche. Then I jumped the shark. From my tag line to my blog posts to my sidebar to my pages to my ads to my footer, my blog was The Variety Hour. My blog confused my readers. Because I tried to be everything to everybody. Posts related to 23 niches (I am not kidding), pages to another niche, ads to yet another niche, and so on and so on.
What could I offer readers? Everything under the sun, it seemed. Which didn’t make sense. Because Pizza Hut would not be Pizza Hut if Pizza Hut sold fish sandwiches, delivered mail, fixed cars and offered wedding cakes.
Based on my old blog design, and on my content, I could effectively cover 36 niches in great detail. Wow…..a specialist!
Imagine if Tony Robbins said, “Yeah, I’m the Why Guy. A self help coach. But I also shine shoes. I’m a part time garbage man too. Only part time, though. On the side, I remove slugs from gardens. Here, check out this slug removal ad on my blog……”
If that sounds absurd…..it is. But why did I make the dreaded mis-alignment mistake for years? Why do many bloggers fall victim to the same error?
I didn’t follow these tips.
Step 1: Blog About 1 Topic (You Feel Passionate about)
I go gaga over travel. I go bonkers over blogging.
So I hatched Blogging from Paradise.
I blog about how to retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging.
I align my blog – top-down – around that 1 topic. No confusion. No mis-alignment.
Think about it; you can only align a blog around 1 specific topic. Once you deviate from 1 topic, you break alignment.
During the lean years I blogged about 32 different things. I am not kidding. My tag cloud (God I can’t believe I posted one on my sidebar) looked like a crime scene. Total chaos. I was a jerk of all trades. Now I’m a master of fun. And, a master of 1. 1 topic.
What can you talk about all day long? Blog about it. That’s it. That’s your topic. That’s where your passionate energy lies. That’s where your success lies.
Step 2: Align Your Blog Top Down
The easy part. Fish in a barrel.
Align your blog with your 1 topic. Top down.
Start at your domain name. Does it align with your topic? It does? Good.
Proceed down your blog. Analyze every element. Does every single THING on your blog align with that 1 topic? Or are you trying to sell fish sandwiches at Pizza Hut?
Analyze your blog title.
Analyze your blog header, scouring over this branded logo.
Assess your blog posts. Assess every element in your sidebar.
Assess your pages.
Check every single element on your blog, from your domain name to your footer. Leave no blogging stone unturned.
Get down and dirty. It’s OK to have dirt under your blogging fingernails as you carefully, thoughtfully mine each ad, banner, image, word and heck, every piece of content on your blog.
If every single item aligns 100% with your 1 topic, you’re golden.
Top Down Alignment Mistake
My beloved Thailand is the origin of intriguing shops. 12 in 1 shops. Shops that are: food stalls/motorbike rental spots/internet cafes/print spots/tour operators, and toss in 4 other functions to round out possibilities. Multi purpose. Many possibilities. But you remember the “jerk of all trades” line. Confusing, right?
If I want a bowl of delicious mixed vegetable curry I’m heading to the Buddhist vegetarian restaurant. And believe me, Kelli doesn’t need to hold a gun to my head to make this happen. The food is amazing. Cheap. Delightful.
Because the Buddhist veggie restaurants do 1 thing, and do it well.
I don’t even think about the 14 in 1, multi purpose shops if I want my veggie fix. Too confusing. You can’t do 14 things well. Even if you’re an affluent octopus who’s invested in a 6 arm transplant.
During my rookie/intermediate/veteran but idiot days I allowed greed, fear, and a lack of clarity to cloud my mind.
I added blog elements just to make a few pennies. Said elements were about as aligned with my blog as Kim Kardashian is aligned with wearing burkas.
Example; I posted Google Adsense ads to my old blog. Ads ranging from buying images for pennies, to real estate stuff to other crap totally not aligned with my 1 blog topic. I tried to sell logistics services out of a pharmacy.
People showed up for drugs. Legal drugs, of course. I tried to sell them on shipping pet food to their grandma in Dubuque, Iowa (Note; if this is you, understand there are cheaper ways to ship pet food to Iowa than through using a logistics service).
Put your peepers here:
Review my blog with a fine-toothed comb. Everything you see, from domain name to footer, aligns 100% with how to retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging. No deviating. No confusion. Aha!
How the “Reeling in Readers” Part Works
Rewind a bit. Review the prior 2 sentences. Ignore the “aha!”. Dwell on “no confusion.”
Readers crave clarity. Readers crave aligned blogs. Blogs covering 1 specific, clear, focused topic.
Most well-meaning but unclear bloggers add non aligned stuff to their blogs. Irrelevant ads. Off topic posts. Non sequiters. Confusion. Exit blog.
BUT……the few bloggers – check out Blogging Tips (Zac knows what time it is) for a fabulous example – who demand that every single *thing* on their blog aligns with their 1 topic find that readers come a’biting every day.
Zac reels in readers by tossing an attractive, shiny, non-confusing lure in the form of a clear, aligned blog. People ain’t gonna see anything but “blogging tips” here. So they show up. They bite. They go for the lure. Again and again.
Readers solve their blogging tips themed problems with aligned, practical, beneficial content. More lives changed.
More readers. More fun. More business. Both parties prosper.
Toss an irresistible lure. Align your blog top down.